DNS Changer: FBI, Internet Providers Avert Disaster

Dennis Faas's picture

With their FBI-supplied lifeline severed, early Monday morning tens of thousands of computers still infected with dangerous DNS Changer virus lost their ability to surf the Internet.

However, it appears that a flurry of media reports warning computer users about the potential problem has prevented the shut-down from having a significant impact.

DNS Changer was a virus that spread across the Internet back in 2009. Originating in eastern Europe, an FBI investigation resulted in the operation's termination in 2011.

The servers involved were seized. However, the FBI voluntarily refrained from shutting them down to help infected computers maintain their legitimate Internet connections.

For the last year, the FBI has kept the servers running while spreading awareness of DNS Changer. The agency encouraged all Internet users to update their security software and visit a special site that could detect the DNS Changer infection.

Fewer Than 50,000 Still Infected

At 12:01am Monday, July 9, 2012, the FBI finally killed the DNS Changer servers. When the moment came, the FBI estimated that just 41,800 computers still retained their infection.

In the hours that followed, there were few major problems. "We're not aware of any issues," said FBI spokeswoman, Jenny Shearer.

Surprised? You should be. Back in February some observers estimated that fifty per cent of all Fortune 500 firms were using systems infected with the virus.

At the height of the infection, about 350,000 computers around the globe were said to be affected by DNS Changer.

FBI, ISPs Play Key Roles in Preventing Disaster

According to PC World's Jared Newman, the key factor in preventing a disaster from the long-delayed server shutdown was the FBI's campaign to raise awareness of the virus' existence.

"Without that level of attention, more people might have lost their connections today, including employees at major corporations and government agencies," Newman said. (Source: pcworld.com)

Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, also played an important role in the remediation effort by offering customers with computers infected by DNS Changer a way around the problem.

AT&T, Cox Communications, Verizon, and Comcast are just a few of the ISPs that provided step-by-step guides for detecting and removing the virus. (Source: pcmag.com)

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